We need to be aware of the crime risks associated with vehicles simply because we depend so heavily on them, spend so much time driving and riding in them, and crimes targeting vehicles and drivers are increasing. You should plan ahead and be aware of your surroundings. Park your car in the safest place for you as well as the vehicle, such as near a street light and not in the furthest corner of a dark car park.
Here are some tips and guidelines on precautions to take to reduce your chances of becoming a victim of crime:
- Never leave your vehicle running or the key in the ignition when leaving your car, even if it’s only a minute or two.
- Always park your vehicle in a well-lit, secure area, especially if you’re visiting a restaurant, shopping centre, or sports ground. Park in attended car parks or other areas that are well-lit, or close to people who can provide assistance if you feel threatened.
- Reverse into parking spaces so that you can drive straight out.
- Activate your vehicle alarm system and use your steering lock when parked.
- Make sure that all doors are locked and that windows and sunroof are completely closed before leaving your vehicle.
- Ensure you know how to double-lock your vehicle and then use that feature.
- Have a quick look through the window to make sure that no one is hiding in your car before you get in.
- Have your keys ready to open the door when returning to your vehicle.
- When returning, look for people who may be following you or waiting near your parked car.
When car trouble strikes
We all hope it doesn’t happen to us, but a breakdown can occur at any time. This can leave you vulnerable on the side of the road. Keep your vehicle in good repair and the tyres in good condition – including the spare – and this will reduce the chances of breakdown. Some other tips to reduce your vulnerability are:
- Refuel when your fuel tank reaches the half-empty mark.
- Carry a mobile phone – but do not use it on the move unless you have a hands-free kit. Even then, be sure that you don’t detract from due care and attention while driving.
- Under no circumstances should you accept a ride. Really helpful people will understand your caution and will gladly arrange to send help to you.
- By the same token, if it’s someone else who needs highway assistance, there’s no need for you to stop on the roadway. Simply get to a phone and send them the help they requested.
Like most crimes, vehicle theft is a crime of opportunity. Professional car thieves will seek to steal new, expensive cars, but “amateurs” usually steal the easy ones and are responsible for the majority of thefts. The best way to prevent your possessions or the vehicle from being stolen is to reduce the criminal’s opportunity and desire to commit a crime.
Make your vehicle harder to steal by using devises such as locking bars for the steering wheel or gear stick, or alarm systems that set off a siren or disable the engine.
Place alarm-system warning decals on your vehicle’s windows, and have your vehicle windows engraved for identification purposes.
Protecting yourself while driving
Make sure that someone knows the time you left, the route taken, and your expected time of arrival. Don’t forget to call them if you’re running late, though!
Keep a map in your car, and drive on well-lit, open, and busy streets. If you feel threatened, don’t be afraid to make a scene. Blow your horn in short blasts, and turn the headlights on and off. Drive to a police station, a fire station, a hospital or any all-night business where people are present. Don’t feel embarrassed by calling attention to yourself. This is the best way to frighten off someone who intends to do you harm.
Never agree to give a stranger a ride, no matter how friendly they look. When stopping behind another vehicle leave enough room to enable you to pull out and around. This technique will keep you from being trapped by front and rear vehicles.
Satellite navigation equipment
Satellite navigation equipment is an attractive and valuable item. If it’s on show or it appears there may be one in the vehicle, this increases the risk of you becoming a victim of motor vehicle-related crime.
When away from the vehicle, remove the satnav from view and place it away somewhere secure. When you’re not using it, remove the holder and wipe the suction marks from the glass. Avoid keeping your home address logged in the satnav, or code it so a thief won’t be able to see your address. Don’t forget many makes also now have emergency functions to help navigate to the nearest payphone, hospital, police station or other useful place. Get to know where this is on your model in case you need it quickly.